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Nature Thru Photos

More Than                 A Picture    

Breaking Through the

Photographic Brick Wall

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There are a couple of things I know for sure. The first is that there is not an amateur photographer out there who does not hit the photographic brick wall and the second is I am not the best photographer. I think the one thing I do well is consistently find new subjects to photograph. So what is the brick wall? Well your mind goes blank on a good weekend when you’re headed out to take some shots and you can’t think of one thing to shoot. We all have it and you know it when your friends call to see if your equipment is on eBay because it’s been too long between photo shoots. The answer is a small 3x4 inch notebook and a pencil. One of the statements made to me is “I don’t live in the right area and I can’t afford a photography trip.” I can’t afford a trip nor do I have the time but regardless of where you live there are plenty of things to shoot. What you need to do is plan and have a specific goal in mind for that day. The notebook carried in your pocket is an idea book. Carry it with you no matter where you go and jot down one word ideas whenever they come up. These could include lighthouse, events, buffalo, bridges or trees. Then go home and look them up on the internet. I placed the word “lighthouse” in my book and found over forty in NYS on a website. Above is an example of one of them. When going out to capture this image I found other great shots of beaches, waterfowl and lakefronts. I also added these individual phrases to my book for future trips. Under the word “ waterfalls” over two hundred were listed in NYS alone on one site. One of them is shown below.

Kind of nice to have two hundred to choose from and they all have different drive times. This brings up the thought of travel times. I am always amazed how people think of a two hour drive as leaving the continent. Waterfalls were a great idea because some were as close as ten minutes away and others were four hours away. I could plan a trip according to how much time I had on a given day.

Again I found many other shots along the way. If your little book contains different trips and different drive times you have a choice on any given day of the time it will take to make a photo trip. I was in a Wegmans store and saw buffalo meat for sale and jotted down buffalo. When I got home I looked up buffalo, bison farms in NYS and anything related to the subject. Finding there was a bison farm a half an hour away I took a ride up to it on a Sunday and got the shots below.

In your book you may have reminders. If you review last year’s images you may find that flight ducks come in around April so it’s a good reminder to make a trip to a preserve at that time. Below is an image of a Red Head that are only here for a few days or weeks.

Which days are the peak fall foliage and where are you going? Plan in the summer so you know where you’re going in advance. Many times on my way going somewhere I see something with great potential but I either don’t have time or the lighting conditions aren’t right. Take note on the sun direction and the time that you need to be there. The internet can also be used to identify not only the location but also the direction that the subject is facing which will tell you if it is an evening shot or a morning shot. Below is a simple dock shot but I had to be there when there was a good sunset. This was definitely an evening shot not a morning shot.

Finding eagle nests online not only gave me a photo of an eagle but a good barn shot also. See below.

My little notebook had planes, trains and automobiles. Keep expanding your thoughts. Autos may be antique, junk cars or race cars. Planes could be at an airport or they might be old reproductions from a museum.

Festivals are a great source of pictures. For my area I entered the word on the internet and found a large number of events and diverse topics. Hot air balloons or Civil War reenactments are just a couple of things to see in your area.

Even the word bridge evolved into covered bridge and again there were good hits on the internet. See below.

So what is my point? No matter where you live there are plenty of things to photograph and you don’t need to take all day doing it. In order to save time know where you are going and what you will be shooting. This doesn’t mean that will be the only thing you photograph but you do have a topic in mind. Next don’t limit yourself to a specific type of photography. You may like wildlife or landscape shots but after trying other things you may change your mind or at least you will learn how to use your camera and software on something new and you will learn to make all your photos better. Believe me, you will have plenty to do and you will enjoy photography much more. Another thing that doesn’t have to stop you is bad weather. Winter here is long and hard and there is no use in having your camera rusting. Move inside for some photos. They could be trick shots or visit a butterfly arboretum. See below.

So my little notebook serves many purposes. Remember when you see those great photographs from exotic places they are only exotic places because you don’t live there. People who do live there say “oh that old mountain. I see it every day”. Things are not that bad where you live. To others it must look fantastic and different. That’s why so many people come to the Finger Lakes to see the sites and yes, take pictures.

Paul Anderson

The above article was written by my brother Paul Anderson. He also took these great photos.

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